When it comes to craft breweries in the U.S., Maine reigns supreme

Posted March 20, 2017, at 12:35 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2017, at 6:25 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — The number of Maine breweries has increased almost sixfold since 2007, in a boom that’s brought beer production to all but Piscataquis County.

And a survey commissioned by the Maine Brewers’ Guild shows beer producers think there’s more to come.

By 2018, Maine’s brewers expect production to increase 39 percent from 2016 levels. A growing fleet of smaller brewers created the most optimism.

Penobscot County brewers topped that list, expecting their output would almost double by 2020.

The county has reason for optimism about the brewing industry at the start of 2017. It posted the fastest growth for counties that had at least one brewery in 2007.

The bulk of the state’s breweries were in York and Cumberland counties. Later this month, the Brewers’ Guild will for the second year host a regional summit for the craft beer industry in Portland.

For the state as a whole, the rate of new breweries coming online beat the national average for five of the six years between 2010 and 2015.

Since 2013, however, sales growth has come at a slightly slower rate, hitting just above $150 million in revenue in 2016. That’s up 17 percent from three years ago.

As smaller breweries come online, the study found they’re much less likely to tap into markets outside the state. The survey found larger brewers got more than half of their revenue from out-of-state customers, while small brewers got less than 10 percent from sales outside Maine.

The study broke up large and small brewers by those that made more or less than 50,000 gallons per year.

The state had about 66 small breweries, employing an average of six people, and about 14 large breweries, employing an average of 61 people, by the end of 2016.

The study found that the state’s 80 breweries by the end of 2016 employed about 1,632 people directly, paying about $50 million in salaries and wages.

The group’s last survey, in 2013, estimated the industry directly employed fewer than 1,500.

Read the full study below.

 

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